Re-assessing Sekou Doumbouya’s upside after his rookie year

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Sekou Doumbouya had an up and down rookie season.

The Detroit Pistons took a bit of a risk with the No. 15 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, using their selection on wing Sekou Doumbouya. While as raw as sashimi and only having just cracked the rotation for French side Ligomes, the young wing’s combination of wingspan, speed, and sweet-shooting from beyond the arc had the Pistons viewing him as a franchise cornerstone for the future.

The Pistons enjoyed mixed results from Doumbouya as a rookie, He started off hot, which led some to believe that he wouldn’t take as much time to develop as initially indicated, but shot just 31 percent from the field in the month of February. The Pistons need to see some tangible improvement if he is to be considered a long-term building block.

Sekou Doumbouya was better on the defensive end than on offense

After spending most of the early part of the season in the G League with the Grand Rapids Drive, Doumbouya’s defensive potential was as good as advertised, although it’s still going to take some time to manifest. A long, mobile 6-foot-9 frame with the ability to defend wings and forwards and switch on to multiple positions is an incredibly useful piece. Even if he fails to become a star, his defense on the wing could keep in the rotation on a hypothetical contending team.

The Pistons knew that his offense would be a work in progress, but 6.4 points per game on 39 percent shooting had to be a bit disappointing considering how hot he started off the season. Growing pains were expected, but 31 percent shooting in a full month has to be hard to watch.

Sekou Doumbouya needs to find himself on offense for Detroit

Doumbouya’s scouting report made mention of his defensive tools and ability to attack the rim, but his offensive game was maligned for his lack of advanced ability to create with the ball in his hands. This was ultimately where is ceiling would be determined — whether he was more Pascal Siakam or more Dorian Finney-Smith. If he remains just a spot-up shooter and rim-runner, Detroit can’t feel comfortable building around him.

The Pistons aren’t exactly the most desirable rebuild project in the league right now. The presence of stars like Blake Griffin prevents the bottom from totally falling out, but Luke Kennard failing to make the leap to stardom and the lack of depth leaves this team without a clear path to contention in the East. Brand new GM Troy Weaver was likely hired to accelerate the rebuild, and the construction of the Pistons roster in the next decade or so will likely revolve around Doumbouya and whomever they select with their lottery pick in the draft.

If Weaver wants to tear it all down and rebuild the Pistons, his best course of action should be to work on building around Doumbouya by expanding his offensive game. While this could get Weaver fired if it doesn’t pan out, the two-way potential Doumbouya carries with him could help set the Pistons up nicely for the next decade.

Doumbouya went from a promising young wing with tools that need to be accentuated over a long period of time to a cornerstone of one of the more ambitious rebuilds in the league in a matter of just a few months. If Detroit hits a home run in the 2020 draft and gets him a co-star, and Griffin chooses to stay around rather than look for a way out, the Pistons might have a young nucleus that strikes fear into the rest of the NBA.

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